Neil Humphreys: Why Oezil drives us mad
Arsenal star needs consistency against United
Mesut Oezil's career is a box of Forrest Gump's chocolates. You never know what you're going to get.
With Manchester United visiting the Emirates tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Arsenal hope for the otherworldly Oezil, the nimble beast behind the recent massacre at Huddersfield.
Or they could get lumbered with the woeful Oezil at Watford.
Six weeks ago, Vicarage Road witnessed the worst of the German, the kind of disjointed, seemingly uninterested performance that Oezil haters love to hate.
His shoulders were hunched, the eyes unfocused and the legs heavy. He couldn't run, but he could hide, popping up only to miss a sitter that cost his side a draw. Watford prevailed 2-1 and it seemed like the beginning of the end.
Oezil's out of contract in the summer and appeared out of chances with the perplexed Arsenal faithful.
But he was magnificent against Huddersfield in midweek, providing two assists and scoring himself in an extraordinary four-minute spell.
Oezil had never contributed towards three goals in the English Premier League before.
When he's good, he's exceptional. When he's bad, he's baffling, but only in English football perhaps.
Oezil has been picked as Germany's national Player of the Year for five of the past six years. At Real Madrid, he managed to be adored by both the Bernabeu and his then-manager Jose Mourinho.
Oezil was the creative fulcrum, picked in 90 per cent of Mourinho's La Liga games.
A manager who supposedly emphasises work rate over wizardry championed Oezil and reportedly wants to give the German a Cantona-esque role at United, shepherding the Red Devils to glory.
Mourinho adores Oezil. Barcelona are also allegedly keen on signing him.
And yet, after four years at Arsenal, he continues to polarise opinion. There's still a sense that the kid who killed off England's so-called Golden Generation at the 2010 World Cup hasn't quite scaled the heights reached in Spain.
He's already 29, but finds himself still seeking to fully prove himself in English football, which may say more about English football (and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger) than it does about Oezil.
His body language has never really gone over well in an environment of guts and glory, box-to-box battlers and the spirit, desire and determination cliches trotted out in EPL punditry.
He's always been a bit of a ballerina surrounded by china-shop bulls.
At the moment, he's averaging 3.66 key passes per 90 minutes, more than any other EPL player. But he rarely does the Steven Gerrard or Yaya Toure thing, marauding through midfield on another muscle-shredding run.
Oezil isn't made that way, physically or mentally, so his body language often betrays him. Something gets lost in translation between the restless crowd and the apparent snowflake melting on the pitch.
That's not to say he can't be inconsistent. Oezil has gone walkabout more times than an Aussie bushranger and his sudden return to form only adds to the suspicion.
He's accused of posing in the shop window. With every goal and assist, Oezil steps closer to an Arsenal exit.
But even if that's the case, his manager hasn't helped. Wenger's inability to sign a babysitter for Oezil - a holding midfielder - and a reliable centre forward ahead of him has only inhibited his natural game.
The 5-0 stuffing of Huddersfield was only the fourth game that Oezil has started with Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez.
In those four games, the trio contributed seven goals and seven assists. In the same games, Arsenal averaged 3.5 goals per game. That figure dropped to 1.4 goals per game in the 10 games where one of the trio was missing.
Wenger should be concerned as Lacazette will miss the United game through injury, but the manager is at least partially at fault for Oezil's mercurial career.
At Real and Germany, Oezil was pretty much first among equals. At Arsenal, he's too often been a lone magician expected to drag his box of tricks from one end of the pitch to the other.
Asking Oezil to track back is akin to asking Petr Cech to take free-kicks.
But the English obsession with work rate (and a slightly archaic view of what a midfielder's work rate should entail), along with Wenger's poor signings, have often condemned Oezil, writing him off as a lazy luxury.
Against Huddersfield, however, he was supported and liberated, allowing the artist to dominate.
Wenger must indulge this particular Oezil because he's wanted elsewhere.
He's wanted by a manager who got the best out of him in club football, a manager who'll be sitting in the opponents' dugout.
For Wenger, losing Oezil would be unfortunate. But losing him to Mourinho would be unforgivable.